Time for some Irish. I just felt like it. Scotch whisky, particularly the aged single malts can be taxing on the brain. You know you are in the presence of greatness and therefore must make mental notes of the entire tasting experience. This can be tiring if one is not up to the task.
Irish whiskey, no matter how old or grand, somehow, makes no demands of you. To partake in some Irish whiskey is, put simply, a more hedonistic experience. It's the recess at school time. It's the summer vacation for the teacher and students or the sabbatical for the professor. And for us, it's kicking back in your favorite bar with a couple of friends, having a ridiculous conversation about anything. Irish whiskey is about . . . good times!
Jameson's standard, no-age statement bottling is the best selling Irish whiskey in America. Pity! You know why? Because it is terrible. Jameson's standard bottling is pretty awful stuff, suitable at best for frat boys determined to do shots after exams in the college social club. Really, please avoid. Tastes old, musty and spoiled.
Jameson 12 years is a big step up in quality. Common enough that you can find it pretty much everywhere, but with a flavor profile that is rather uncommonly good! Lots of chocolate, hazelnut action mixed with malty notes. Makes for a nice dram.
Jameson 18 years is the oldest sibling, but not the best. You're gonna taste Chinese green tea, lemon grass and citrus notes. Not terrible, but not great. Matter of fact, not as good as the 12 years.
And finally, we arrive at the task at hand: evaluating the Jameson Gold Reserve. Well, what can I tell you? For starters, this whiskey has no age statement, yet it is priced above the 12 year old and below the 18 year old. It's not a cheap date.
Browsing the Jameson website you will glean scant more about the age of the whiskies making up Gold Reserve. The three whiskies making up this blend are described as being of "advanced years" . . . This is not a problem for me. I am not hung up on age statements, as they are not necessarily definitive of quality. A couple of possible reasons why there is no age statement: (1) the blender has the flexibility to choose whiskies that may vary in age from year to year, yet blended properly achieve the signature flavor profile the blender aims to replicate each year; and (2) it's more cost effective (it gets expensive if you are only using whiskies of a certain age each year).
Rich, fragrant molasses, almonds and wild flowers.
Initially buttery followed by a transition to a crisp, fresh body of crunchy peanut brittle, wild honey, English cream and oak.
Fairly long flavors of mint, Oolong Tea and malt remain.
Excellent Irish whiskey! Better than the 12 and 18 year olds. Why? More complex flavor profile. The ability of the whiskey to start sweet, transition to a dry, almost crunchy quality is no easy feat. The master blender is to be applauded for his effort in this regard. While it shares some flavor similarities with the 12 year old, the Gold Reserve takes those flavors to new heights.
While the price point is high, it is worth the experience.
Compared to other mass produced Irish whiskey bottlings, I would say Jameson Gold Reserve is among the best. However, the king of Irish whiskies is not dethroned: Redbreast 12 years.
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